Who Sunday: The Runaway Bride, Russell T. Davies

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Giant, angry, red, subterranean spider: What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the Doctor telling Donna she’s unimportant, for one thing. Then he learns better.

I love Donna for many reasons, not the least of which is that she violates the “make the character likable” rule. Donna is not likable, you just want her around anyway. Which is why the rule should be “Make the character fascinating.” “Likable” is a dime a dozen; “fascinating” is the gold standard. Only Donna could have said one of my favorite lines from Who: “You’re not mating with me, Sunshine.”

Next Who Sunday: The Runaway Bride, Russell T. Davies

Note: I managed to forget to post this all week. Well, it’s been a full week. Sorry!

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Remember the screaming bride at the end of “Doomsday?” That’s Donna, and she’s not happy about being yanked out of her wedding as she’s walking down the aisle. I was ambivalent about Donna at the beginning of this episode–such a screaming bitch–but by the end, I was sorry to see her turn down the Doctor’s invitation to travel. Fortunately . . . no, wait, that’s a spoiler. So, weddings, mothers, treachery, and Donna, the stroppy moral compass of Who.

"Cold Hearts" 5: The Third Draft

So this is where we are now. It is by no means finished, nor are all of the problems fixed. The hero still isn’t on the page enough to be Courtney’s opposite number, for example. There are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. The antagonist drifts which is never a good thing. If I ever write this novella, it’ll go through many more rewrites. But this is a good place to leave it until I get the rest of the novella done. Continue reading

"Cold Hearts" 4: The Beta Readers

Note: This is really long because I combined what was going to be the fourth and fifth posts. I’d split them because it’s so long but I don’t think it makes sense since they’re talking about the same thing, and the last in the series should be tomorrow with the third draft. So LONG POST WARNING.

Somewhere around the twentieth rewrite, I have polished the scene until I can’t see it anymore. I’ve just spend too much damn time with it and I have no distance. That’s when I call in beta readers. For the purposes of this series, I gave my critique group, the Glindas, and my McDaniel students a second draft and asked for volunteers, which was awful of me, they should have gotten a later draft, but hey, education. You can see below how amazing they are, and what a huge, huge help good beta readers can be. As in “essential.”

Most used some variation of the Glinda/McDaniel scene critique form: Continue reading

"Cold Hearts" 3: The Second Draft

The first rewrite is never going to be the finished scene. In my experience, the tenth rewrite isn’t going to be the finished scene. You have to fix the glaring problems so you can see the ones that are merely evident. And then you have to fix the evident ones so you can see the one that are just bad. And then you have to fix the bad ones to see the one that are iffy. And then . . . The more rewrites you do, the better the scene gets, and the more clearly you can see its warts and bones. So the first rewrite is still going to be bad and it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it’s better . . .

“Cold Hearts” Scene One First Rewrite/Second Draft Continue reading

"Cold Hearts" 2: Brainstorming the Fix

So now there’s rough draft and it’s lousy but that’s okay because the rough draft is just the place I start. But now I have to ask myself some hard questions. Like “What the fuck is going on here? Why doesn’t she just give him the damn diamond? Is she an idiot?” Below are my notes on rereading twice during the next two weeks.

Okay, this is a mess, so let’s run the basic conflict box: Continue reading

"Cold Hearts" 1: The First Draft

In an attempt to give something back here after last week’s wallow, I finally finished a five-part rewrite series I drafted awhile ago. The idea was to put up a first draft, analyze it, do a first rewrite, hand it over to beta readers (even though usually I’d do five or six more drafts before I showed it to anybody) and get their feedback, analyze the scene again, and do a third rewrite. That would give me, in theory, a starting place for the novella although I can’t do a final rewrite on a first scene until I’ve done the final rewrite on the last scene. It seemed like a good idea. Then life sideswiped me again and I put it to one side. And now I’m back.

The big thing to remember about first drafts is that of course they’re terrible. Continue reading

Who Sunday: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, Russell T. Davies

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One of the problems of writing Dr. Who has to be upping the stakes for every finale. “No, THIS ONE is the worst!” It’s the Buffy problem: “We have to save the world AGAIN?” The smaller episodes of good people in trouble (see “The Girl in the Fireplace”) have more warmth, I think, and often more suspense. We know the Doctor is going to save The World, but he doesn’t always save The Person (see Rose’s daddy). A lot of the emotion in this one isn’t about losing the world, it’s about Rose and the Doctor losing each other. I think every epic needs, at its center, personal crisis, one single heart in danger of being broken, or it just becomes a lot of sound and fury and big gleaming robots.